Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Homeless advocate won’t push vote for services

February 13, 2007


Lawrence voters this April won't be asked to consider a question directing city commissioners to spend more money for services related to the poor and homeless.

Steve Ozark, a Lawrence advocate for better homeless services, in January asked city commissioners to give voters in the April city elections an opportunity to support additional funding for homeless and poverty-related programs.

But Ozark said Monday that he's no longer pushing for a citywide vote, in part because he's not sure it would be successful at the ballot box.

"What I've learned, especially from the bloggers in town, is we could not win a referendum that had the word homelessness in it," Ozark said. "The word homelessness strikes fear into people."

Ozark, though, will be at tonight's City Commission meeting to ask commissioners to commit to having a serious discussion about providing more funding for homeless services and poverty-related programs in the 2008 budget. He wants commissioners to have a study session on the issue before this summer, when commissioners will begin crafting the city budget for next year.

Ozark, who has been active in the issue as the founder and coordinator for the Lawrence Community Interfaith Initiative, said he's been frustrated by the pace at which the city has tackled the issue of homeless services. He said a report by the Community Commission on Homelessness - which recommended funding for a new shelter, transitional housing and other programs - was a good one. But the 2005 report said it would take about $4.7 million over a three-year period to adequately fund the plan.

Since that report, commissioners have added about $160,000 to the budget to fund social service case managers to work with the homeless.

"My frustration is that time is marching on," Ozark said. "The discussion is always there from the city, and the caring is always there from this community, too. But I want to know when are we going to put our foot down and take this to a different level?"

Long-time advocate for homeless services continues to push for more funding

Though he's dropped plans for a public vote, Steve Ozark still wants to put the homeless issue front and center in next year's budget. Enlarge video

Mayor Mike Amyx said he was pleased that Ozark had decided to no longer push for a referendum on the subject.

"I did not think that would be the best way to go with it," Amyx said. "There are a lot of issues that we need to discuss before we would be in a position to support a referendum."

Amyx said he was looking forward to hearing from Ozark, but stopped short of saying that he could support additional funding for homeless and poverty programs in the 2008 budget. Amyx has been sounding the alarm that next year's budget may be exceedingly tight because of lower-than-average increases in assessed valuations in the community. Amyx has asked city staff members to send out a letter to the various nonprofit agencies that apply for city funding to alert them to the possibility that funding increases for their agencies may be small to nonexistent.

Ozark said he won't be spending time on organizing a campaign; he'll work to educate the community about homelessness and poverty-related issues. He said he hopes to develop a report by this summer that shows how the city could use existing funding to better serve the homeless. For example, he said the community spends significant amounts of money to house the homeless or mentally ill in jail rather than provide treatment or supervised housing.

"We're spending the money now but not getting the results," Ozark said.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

If we hadn't spent $trillions creating millions of homeless people in Iraq, taking care of our own could be pretty easily done.

armyguy 11 years, 1 month ago

Yes, the bloggers on the LJW website have spoken, so there will be no referendum. Mr. Ozark, look at all the different story bloggs and you will see that there are a dozen or so people, who dominate these boards.

BTW, I don't support spending any more money on the homeless in town because there are two shelters and many other services for the 105 or so homeless in town (city numbers, not mine).

geekin_topekan 11 years, 1 month ago

Don't worry about us bone heads on this forum.We are too busy blogging to go out and actually do something!! Try doing some real world stuff and ignore the computer for a while. I'll help.

Bladerunner 11 years, 1 month ago

Okay homeless people listen up! Look in the mirror and repeat after me. "The City of Lawrence doe not owe me a meal. The City of Lawrence does not owe me a house. The City of Lawrnece does not owe me cheap public transportation. I will bath, shave, get a job, and become a productive member of society instead of being a leach on society."

Leech- a person who clings to another for personal gain, esp. without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other's resources; parasite.

Im sick of meeting people downtown who claim they are disabled because a doctor told them they had ADHD and similar treatable ailments. Many brag about the government checks they recieve monthly. Bowhunter and I arn't the only ones tired of footing the bill. They should be encouraged to move to a warmer climate where fishing and sleeping under the stars year round will be much easier on their drunk as#@es.

Okay squishys...go ahead and start bashing me.

Kathy Gates 11 years, 1 month ago

About a year and a half ago my family DID do something about homelessness--we gave a homeless man room and board in my home for about six weeks. (He was a high school friend of my husband's.) During that time he got--and lost--three jobs because of his unwillingness to play by the same rules the rest of us follow. However, he still had money to buy a membership to the Merc and to shop there regularly. When we asked him to leave our house his plan was to sleep at the Salvation Army shelter. We still let him keep some things at our home and come over for dinner occasionally. When he talked about "Sally," all he could say was how horrible it was that they imposed rules on behavior of the people who stayed there. I once had to listen to a 20 minute diatribe on how horrible it was that they didn't offer dessert at every dinner! My feelings--there's shelter and food available at numerous organizations. I know it's not much, but it IS something. What more are we expected to provide people?

I will still give to organizations that help the homeless, but as far as donating directly to the homeless? Been there, done that, and got burned.

bd 11 years, 1 month ago

Make them pick up trash around town for a meal! Give them big trash bags and trade the full bags for a meal etc.....OPPSS! tHAT WILL NOT WORK! they already get free meals!

Kathy Gates 11 years, 1 month ago

So what IS the solution, Sasquatch? I'm just asking a question, not intending to bait anyone at all. When I stopped by the Salvation Army to pick up my husband's friend I saw hot meals, a pad on the floor, and a roof to protect from the elements. Even the Bowery Mission has requirements for its services. Should we build a 100 bed shelter with showers, lockers, and meals? What happens to person 101?

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 1 month ago

I have a funding solution. Mr. Ozark could add a $1 per music concert ticket tax. this would exclude non-professionals or benefits.

Oh wait, that wouldn't work because he helps support his living by playing music and managing other bands for money.

Never mind. He wouldn't go for it because it would hurt HIS income.

sun45kiss 11 years, 1 month ago

Bowhunter99 you hit it straight in the middle !!! I'm from Oakland/SF so I think I know what I'm talking about. Its the so called homeless capital of the nation. And believe me I know how they operate. When I went home for the Raider game I had it with a couple of them who have been homeless by choice for years (they were homeless when I was kid )and now they have resorted to holding signs saying their Vietnam Vets and none of them have EVER served !!! This pissed me off !! I told them they weren't fit to leave. It use to be signs saying I got HIV/AIDs. Anything to get a hit, and believe me they dont' want your money for food; nor do they want your food. They try to sell your food to my father on San Pablo (Berkeley). They even try to sell him the plates of food they get @ St. Vincient De Paul. So yeah get your money ready sucker. And all the so called crazies that truley deserve help; there would be enough money if the hustlers of the homeless game opt OUT !!Maybe they should change the way they screen people who need help.

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